Circuses, but Less Bread 1532


The London Olympics are already achieving the number one aim of the politicians who brought them here, which is making our politicians feel very important indeed.

The media is quite frenetic in its efforts to make us all believe we should be terrifically proud of the fact we are hosting the Olympics, as though there were something unique in this achievement. If we can’t competently do something that Greece, Spain and China have done in recent years, that would be remarkable. Of course the Games will be on the whole well delivered, sufficient for the media and politicians to declare it an ecstatic success. Some of the sporting moments will be sublime, as ever.

But did it have to be in London? We won’t know the total cost of the Games for months, but it will cost the taxpayer at least £9 billion and I suspect a lot more. I also suspect the GDP figures will, in the event, show that the massive net fall in visitor numbers has hurt the already shrinking economy further.

But to take the most optimistic figure, holding the Olympics in London has cost every person in the country an average of £150 per head in extra taxes. That is £600 for a family of four. Actually it is in the end going to be well over £2,000, as of course the money has been borrowed on the never never, and taxpayers are going to be paying it off their whole lives, along with the sum ten times higher they are already paying direct into the pockets of the bankers through their taxes.

The very rich, of course, don’t pay much tax, so they are not worried.

But to take just the figure of £600 extra taxes for a family of four, the lowest possible amount, and not including the interest. Is having the Olympics here really worth paying out £600 for? If Tony Blair had approached the head of the family and said “We are going to have the Olympics in London, but it’s going to cost you £600, would the answer have been from most ordinary people: “Yes, great idea, this is that important to us”?

People are not disconcerted because they don’t see that they have to pay. There is no special Olympics tax, and they pay their taxes in a variety of ways, and individuals are not the sole source of taxation. But this is nonetheless real money taken from the people in pursuit of the hubris of politicians.

I love sport. I hate the corruption of the International Olympic Committee, Fifa and the rest; I hate the vicious corporatism and militarisation of our capital and absurd elitism of the transport lanes; the sport itself I love. But with the economy contracting, and the NHS being farmed out for profit, is it really worth £600 for a family – and many families are really struggling in a heartbreaking way – is it worth the money to have the Olympics here rather than in Paris?

Of course it isn’t. I think many of us will feel an extra pleasure watching the Opening ceremony because it is British. Patriotic pride will surge. It is not wrong to enjoy the spectacle tonight on TV. The corporate well connected and ruling classes will enjoy it in the stadium.

But after you have watched it on TV, ask yourself this question. How much more did you enjoy it than enjoy watching the Beijing ceremony, and was that margin of extra enjoyment something that everybody in the room would have paid out £150 for?

Because they just did.


1,532 thoughts on “Circuses, but Less Bread

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  • doug scorgie

    Israel’s Channel 10 TV station website has quoted Israeli political sources as saying that if the newly-appointed Egyptian army commanders don’t work with Israel, then the Israel Defence Forces will invade Sinai to suppress terrorist groups.
    (This bit of news lends weight to those that think the attack in Sinai, which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, was a false flag operation by Israel).
    The report goes on… “ [Israel notes] that the Muslim Brotherhood now feels confident enough to carry out what it says is a “coup” in all but name, removing the army’s post-Mubarak political powers in the process.”
    To Israel a democratic election is a coup if it doesn’t bring the “right” result. Hamas as we know was democratically elected but that result was cancelled by the West and when Hamas took over Gaza that was described, by Israel and the West, as a coup.
    The Egyptians will be robbed of their democracy if they are not vigilant over the next few months. It is patently clear that the USA, Israel and Britain will do all they can to support the military in Egypt against its people to re-install a compliant regime.
    Long live democracy!

  • Passerby

    Jon Jon,
    The problem we all face when it comes to the bloody industrial murder spree of egity millions souls during what has become to be a “just war” narrative are many.
    ,
    I came across an example the other day that made me laugh my tits off, without boring you, having resoundingly demolished the contentions of a bunch of guys, the debate was reduced to: You are right, but this is far too emotional for us to look at it from your perspective, that will come in another hundred years!!
    ,
    Nice sentiments, the only slight problem is between now and the next century the carnage will be an ongoing affair, whilst the emotional operatives are averting their eyes from looking at the real consequences of their emotional approach.
    ,
    You mention the “holocaust guilt” however fact that this narrow focused and specialized guilt automatically releases the guilt bearer from the far greater guilt of systematic slaughter off eighty million civilians all in the name of confronting the evils of fascism, the same system that later became to be adapted by the belligerents in their own lands albeit in a different fashion, and intensity.
    ,
    The contemporaneous data gleaned in first person in Dresden was a wake up call. As I stood in front of this Denkmal der Trümmerfrauen I could only see the “communist celebration of equality”, as I put that to my German Company, she retorted what do you expect? War had killed off all the men, or turned these into concentration camp prisoners, someone had to build the city back up. These rubble women built this city, hence the monument to these women.
    ,
    Fact is whilst we all are too busy only thinking of a segment of the victims of the exercise in mass murder, the other millions of deaths are an all too unfortunate events in the way of the main attraction so to speak, all the while leaving the same bunch of bastards who brought the last mass slaughter to indulge in their passions of killing millions more in the wars that they have waged since.
    ,
    Evidently in death there is inequality of station too, otherwise why should the world be so hung up on only one particular segment of victims, a tiny segment in fact.
    ,
    What about the other eighty fucking million minced, mangled, and perished souls, when will be the time for someone to mourn their passing?
    ,
    Need to rush, but I put to you, unless we start reassessing the “just war”, there are many wars that are yet to be unleashed on many innocent civilians as has been the case for the last twelve years, during which millions have been killed and we have been told we don’t do body counts. In fact Syrians are the current beneficiaries of the policies of the “Just War”.
    ,

  • Mary

    The riots in Amiens were given prominence in today’s Times who said that Hollande is cancelling his holiday because of the seriousness of the situation.
    .
    This is the BBC version.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19261885
    .
    I also saw that UK insurers are setting up their own legal firms. Surely there is a conflict of interest for their insured?
    .
    Also breaking news on Sky just now. Saudi Arabia have ordered all their citizens to leave Lebanon???

  • Jon

    Passerby, thanks. I didn’t take a position on whether WWII was “just”, but that it killed a lot of Jewish people, and that has caused some proportion of determination amongst Jewish people, and guilt amongst non-Jewish people. I think your post was a lengthy way of saying that we should mourn all the war dead, and sure, I agree.
    .
    But you didn’t connect with the point of my post, which is that the Middle East situation should be analysed by class and not nationality. That puts Palestinian supporters at an advantage, since every Palestinian is affected by the security situation, whereas a lot of Israelis in Israel are comparatively safe, and so aren’t significantly affected by more injustice for someone else. This ought to be attractive to the free thinking Israeli citizen, who maybe wants security for everyone, and who hates how hateful his country has become (indeed, there is a sizeable minority of Israelis who are already thinking this – why else would it become a crime to boycott Israel inside of Israel?).
    .
    So my question is, if you were the chief facilitator between Israeli and Palestinian delegations, could you use my approach as the basis for your even-handedness? Or, if you were living in Gaza, could you use it to avoid blaming your situation on the Israeli man who demonstrates at the cost-of-living protests in Tel Aviv? Or, as a Palestinian supporter, can you feel sympathy for the Israeli man who, having had his share of austerity policy from their Americanised political system, decided to set himself on fire?

  • nevermind

    technicolour

    14 Aug, 2012 – 6:38 pm

    Wow, so the ‘most watched US TV event in history’ (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics-most-watched-us-tv-event-ever-nbc-162656607–oly.html) cut Akram Kham’s tribute to peace and community and liberation and hope? It is being reported (though usually, wrongly described as a tribute to the victims of 7/7) and the hashtag NBCfail was trending on twitter.
    .
    why is it more important that Akram Khans excellent piece was cut, then the harassment of the bin-suhayl brothers, young future chess prospects, and their family, by the English Chess Federation?
    .
    Is the English Chess Federation something special?

    Both are ignorant acts committed by racialists, but the key lies, like with so many things, in the celebrity cult that is distinguishing between importance, even when it comes to racists acts.

    Not only are they mediocre, they seem to have a neck for undermining future talent with blatant racism.

    Still not a word of this in the MSM, who would want to spoil that special Olympic feeling….

  • technicolour

    Nevermind “why is it more important that Akram Khans excellent piece was cut, then the harassment of the bin-suhayl brothers, young future chess prospects, and their family, by the English Chess Federation?”

    Did I say it was more important? Read the piece, saw that they’re launching an investigation. Will you keep an eye on the outcome, please?

  • Fedup

    Jon,
    Middle East situation should be analysed by class and not nationality.
    ,
    Don’t you think this is a dangerous proposition?
    ,
    The ramification of this contention could be the final nail in the coffin of the identity of a group of people as Palestinians. This is in fact accepting, there never existed any “Palestinian People”, which is already the favourite sound bite of the ziofuckwits, who have been systematically killing and ethnic cleansing Palestinians from their homes/farms/lands.
    ,
    The class issue effectively brings about a status of a group of none people as in the case of Chagos Islanders, whom are scattered into the seven winds and have little or no hope of ever returning to their lands, because UK has long term leased out these islands to US for their use as an airbase by US.
    ,
    Also sympathising with those cases of self-immolation in the occupied Palestine, however connecting the plight of these Jewish underclass and the none Jewish Goyem underclass in the Yiddish emirates is a sure way of overlooking the racial apartheid that is foisted upon the Palestinians and is the basis of the interactions of the ziofucwits with any outsider.
    ,
    It is not so difficult to see how you have reached this conclusion, however what is not perhaps all that carefully worked out is the extent of damage that this line of debate can inflict on an already beleaguered group of people (Palestinians). Additionally I have overlooked the issues of cultural chauvinism inherent in the “class” for Palestinians and race for others that can be easily misconstrued given the slippery bunch of tossers zofuckwits have proven to be.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    ‘Nevermind’, re. the Chess controversy, I’d not heard of this before. I don’t think I (who actually first mentioned the Akram Khan-NBC thing on this thread), or Technicolour, who reiterated their disgust at NBC, were suggesting that that was more important than alleged racist abuse of children. The latter story, too, seems to have reported widely in the MSM – though I myself had missed it. I take your point about celebrity. OOne might posit that, if the Bin Suhayls’ account is true, both these events are bad.
    .

    Let’s see what transpires. If the allegations are true, some of the allegations are shocking, others, less so. For example, I’m not entirely sure why young children would be fasting during Ramzan – they are not supposed to do so – though the eldest boy was 13 and so might be fasting, if he so wished. I take the point about there not being halal food, or at least food of a decent standard (wrt halal food, I don’t know where this place in Austria is) that would’ve met their dietary requirements. All of that should have been arranged and sorted out before the party travelled so that proper arrangements could have been made. I think the parents of the boys are saying that they thought it had been sorted out beforehand. One cannot expect hotel staff to get up at whatever time of night/early morning to cook a fresh meal for one family, but nowadays there are multiple ways of storing cooked meals so they just require microwaving by the individual guests. There’s no reason they should’ve had to have a ‘bread-and-water’ diet (if that is the allegation). And the alleged verbal and physical abuse by some of the other parents, if true, seems utterly disgraceful.
    .
    Susan Polgar, chess expert, posted a link to an early piece on the matter:
    .
    http://susanpolgar.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/family-subjected-to-islamophobic-abuse.html
    .
    Let’s see what happens – there seem to be allegations and counter-allegations. It’s important the truth is uncovered. Does anyone in Cambridgeshire or Norfolk know more on this? I see the English Chess Federation have thrown out the complaint but the Bin Suhayl parents are taking it further, alleging that the ECF is “institutionally racist”.

  • Binyamin Netanyahu

    Hello Englishmen,
    .
    Here is my plan for attacking Iran. It’s kosher, I just need to sway one more member of the Shminiya and my war is on. This is not a war of aggression mind, despite what you may read below. I am attacking the Iranian regime without warning because they are attempting a second HOLOCAUST as I speak. As you were all personally responsible for the last HOLOCAUST you will not object, and you certainly will not call this attempt to prevent another HOLOCAUST a ‘war of agression’. It is in fact a war for the peace of the whole world. Oh…and the HOLOCAUST, both of them.
    .
    [Mod/Jon: snipped, reproduces verbatim from link supplied earlier to richardsilverstein.com – this board is for discussion, not dump-n-run links]

  • Mary

    The Guardian descends to new depths. Shame on them.
    .
    ‘In a sad sign of its deterioration, The Guardian has hired a new contributor who openly called on the Israeli army to kill Americans sailing to Gaza, including Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker and Kindertransport refugee Hedy Epstein.
    .
    In a statement on its website the newspaper says:
    .
    Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest Correspondent for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column “On Politics & Persuasion” which launches on Monday, August 20.
    .
    “We are pleased to have Josh join the Guardian,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of the Guardian US. “He brings an important perspective our readers look for on issues concerning US politics,” added Gibson.’
    .
    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/new-guardian-team-member-openly-incited-israel-murder-alice-walker-and-others

  • Fedup

    Hello Crazy tosspot,
    That is not a battle plan it is a wish list written for Santa.
    ,
    Bigging up the threats from a little shitty strip of land somehow means nothing more than wishful thinking of those crazed bastards and no more. Simple fact is ziofuckwits have been only successful in wars against people with no weapons systems and imprisoned in concentration camps.
    ,
    The Lebanese militia kicked their butt to kingdom come and proved the very point. All the big talk of attacking here, there and everywhere, somehow has been the order of the day, this morning they were attacking Egypt, and Syria too.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “Hello Englishmen…”
    .
    Excuse me? Ahm fae Glesga. Dinnae ca’ me a Sassenach!
    .
    Though I once was one.
    .
    One assumes that the address by the ‘Israeli PM’ was meant for women, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Uzbeks and Outer Mongolians, too. Or was it meant in the sense of, “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”-meets-“Friends, Romans, Countrymen…”-meets-“O Ye Muslims! Listen!-meets “And Noah begat Freddie, and Freddie begat Senga…”?
    .
    Hello Botswanans.

  • OldMark

    How’s about Julian Assange’s chances of Ecuadorian repatriation?

    -Good question Jon. A short item on the Beeb’s 10 o’clock news earlier startled me somewhat, and has now been followed by this on the website :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19259623

    It seems all will be revealed at 13.00 BST tomorrow.

    As a long shot, what do commenters think of the idea that Assange, sensing danger, may have done a bunk, and is in Ecuador already ?

    The departure of the Olympians thru LHR a few days ago would have given him useful cover. And after the plods magnificent failure to find the missing Tia in the New Addington loft, I reckon a Jules-in-disguise could have easily given the boys in blue the slip twixt Knightsbridge and Heathrow.

    The lunchtime news tomorrow will certainly be interesting.

  • lysias

    According to Gosztola’s latest Tweet, Occupy Wall Street is calling on Assange supporters to mass at the Ecuador embassy in London.

  • Jon

    Fedup, thanks for your response. However I am still unsure as to what you actually would do if you were, theoretically speaking, persuading the two sides to the negotiating table. I agree with the proposition that there has been ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, and I am not asking anyone – on either side – to give up their cultural background*. I am as angry about Palestinian suffering as you are.
    .
    How did you come to the conclusion that sympathising with ordinary Israeli people is a “sure way of overlooking the racial apartheid”? I don’t think this is true at all, since sympathy is not a finite resource. I can feel a great regret that an Israeli man who is treated badly by the welfare system has set himself ablaze, and still have plenty of empathy available for the Palestinian mother who has lost a son, arbitrarily shot by the IDF.

    what is not perhaps all that carefully worked out is the extent of damage that this line of debate can inflict on an already beleaguered group of people

    Can you explain why you think my approach would “damage” the Palestinians? How would it do so? My view is this: if we can show people on both sides that their embedded racism and hatred, whilst emotionally satisfying in the short term, is damaging their own security prospects, perhaps they can be persuaded to change their mind. Only by garnering this support on both sides can we hope to achieve peace – do you think your approach would work with the Israeli people? Or, if their view doesn’t matter, are you relying on an increase in popular international pressure on Israeli to change its stance? If so, what would bring that increase about?
    .
    * The one-state solution is a thorny exception to this, as the loss of one’s country’s name and delineation may be a step too far for some. In any case this solution doesn’t enjoy much support on either side at present.

  • Jon

    @OldMark – done a bunk already, good thinking! If he gets into the Ecuadorean diplomatic car, is he then safe, or is he still liable for arrest until he is in the air?
    .
    I do hope he makes it to Ecuador. Hopefully he will then invite the Swedish authorities over to his hotel, where they can ask him as many questions as they like. Of course, they could have done so whilst he was in London, but Sweden’s imo being coerced at the moment.

  • Anon

    http://www.itv.com/news/story/2012-06-19/assange-seeks-political-asylum/
    .
    Ecuadorian spokesman: ‘We are deeply shocked by the British government’s threats’
    .
    We are deeply shocked by the British government’s threats against the sovereignty of the Ecuadorian Embassy and their suggestion that they may forcibly enter the embassy.
    .
    This a clear breach of international law and the protocols set out in the Vienna Convention.
    .
    Throughout out the last 56 days Mr Julian Assange has been in the Embassy, the Ecuadorian Government has acted honourably in all our attempts to seek a resolution to the situation.
    .
    This stands in stark contrast to the escalation of the British Government today with their threats to break down the door of the Ecuadorian Embassy.
    .
    Instead of threatening violence against the Ecuadorian Embassy, the British Government should use its energy to find a peaceful resolution to this situation which we are aiming to achieve.
    .
    – Ecuadorian government spokesman

  • glenn

    I’m astonished that the UK would shred its diplomatic bona fides so blatantly. If anyone was wondering how much pressure the Swedes and Brits were under to deliver Assange to America, we now have the answer.
    .
    The trouble when we pull this sort of crap is the example it sets. If countries as powerful and well connected as the UK can resort to this shameless violation of diplomatic protocols, how can we complain when some unstable government in an excitable part of the world behaves the same towards our embassies and staff?
    .
    Diplomats for the UK in every outpost much be just thrilled tonight to learn about this.
    .

  • kingfelix

    Has to rate as the most stupid thread ever for the ‘debate’ between Komodo and Tecnicolour.
    .
    Komodo, you sound like an archetypal working-class racist pub bore on the subject of nationalism/immigration (you even cite pub landlords as ‘evidence’! Yes, evidence of your mistaking one little corner of England for the whole.
    .
    Tecnicolour wins basically by virtue of having a more considered position and not basically trying to dress up racism through repeated attempts to define what constitutes a national community (and all your definitions were the same, there’s ‘them’ and ‘us’).
    .
    I know Komodo writes a lot of good comments. I think the problem here is just a lack of geographical and social mixing. If you’ve gone around the world and been an immigrant yourself, as I have, and moved through/lived in highly globalised places, as I have, then perhaps you’d not be so prone to keep thinking that listening to a pub landlord is the way to gauge the impact of immigration on UK society.
    .
    Working-class life has its limits. Recognize them.

  • Anon

    http://wikileaks.org/Statement-on-UK-threat-to-storm.html
    .
    Statement on UK threat to storm Ecuadorian embassy and arrest Julian Assange
    Thursday 16th August, 3:00am UTC
    .
    In a communication this morning to the government of Ecuador, the UK threatened to forcefully enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrest Julian Assange.
    .
    The UK claims the power to do so under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.
    .
    This claim is without basis.
    .
    By midnight, two hours prior to the time of this announcement, the embassy had been surrounded by police, in a menacing show of force.
    .
    Any transgression against the sanctity of the embassy is a unilateral and shameful act, and a violation of the Vienna Convention, which protects embassies worldwide.
    ================
    Full statement at link.

  • Vronsky

    Radio 3 news at 0630 today: “Julian Assange has applied for asylum in Ecuador in order to avoid extradition to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault.”
    .
    Just that.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The UK illegally invaded Iraq. Why would they worry about entering the embassy of a country like Ecuador? If it was the Chinese Embasy, they might think twice. The USA/UK military-security-whatever can do anything it damn well wants. And if Assange flies, he could be arrested even when in the air and the ‘plane turned around. They can arrst him in the embassy too, if they deem the alleged crime serious enough. US Navy Seals would get him in Ecuador. Grenada, 1982, Iraq 2003, Ecuador 2012.

  • Mary

    Vronsky Sky News just said ‘charges of ++rape++ and sexual assault’! The ‘medja’ is lined up outside the Embassy. They are loving it.

  • anon

    [Mod/Jon: snipped, reproduces verbatim from link supplied earlier to richardsilverstein.com – this board is for discussion, not dump-n-run links]
    .
    This is not a ‘discussion board’, it is a comments section. A discussion board allows posters to create new topics, reply specifically to posts and often they have some form of rating. All of which means not having to load up 1,000’s of kB’s of data just to see the most recent posts – it is so inefficient and wasteful of resources.

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